Scottish Premiership: Celtic, Rangers, Hibernian, Hearts and Motherwell are analysed by James McFadden

Posted on

There has been drama and talking points aplenty after just three matches in the new Scottish Premiership season, but what lies ahead?

Celtic are top of the table, averaging over three goals a game, ahead of Rangers who also maintained their 100 per cent start to the season.

With European action on the horizon, Hearts are back in third while after tricky starts Lee Johnson will be keen to build a run of positive results while new Motherwell boss Steven Hammell will be hoping for more of the same after victory in his first game took them up to third.

To analyse some of the major talking points ahead of another big weekend – which starts with Hibernian vs Rangers, live on Sky Sports Football on Saturday at 12:30 – we asked former Scotland international and Sky Sports pundit James McFadden for his take…

Will Rangers make changes for Hibs trip?

Image: Alfredo Morelos returned to training after surgery and could feature against Hibs according to James McFadden

Yes, I think so. I think that there would be anyway because they need to use the squad. With PSV having the time off, the advantage for Rangers is that it allows them to get minutes into players – Alfredo Morelos in particular.

He’s obviously coming off of a long layoff and he’s not quite ready yet to be starting games. The more chance he’s got to get involved and get on the pitch, then the better it is for Rangers.

Saturday 20th August 12:00pm Kick off 12:30pm

It allows them to freshen it up and get as I said, more minutes into their legs. It’s so early in the season that you know what’s coming, you know the games are coming thick and fast and after having a break the players will be desperate just to get involved.

For the ones that aren’t, it gives them a chance to catch the manager’s eye and force their way into his thinking for the return leg.

Is there pressure on Lee Johnson?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Hibernian need to pick up results quickly and give Lee Johnson time to take the club forward, says James McFadden

I think the way that Hibs have been in the last year and a half is that when managers go through bad runs, they then come under pressure.

I think there has to come a point for Hibs where they start planning for the long term and maybe stop looking at short-term results.

I know that’s easier said than done but when you’re replacing a man that was in the job for four months (Shaun Maloney) – who didn’t really get a chance to put his stamp on the club. The manager before (Jack Ross) – was on a poor run of results – but he got them to a cup final and he lost his job as well.

Ultimately that pressure probably grows, but I think looking at Lee Johnson, it looks like he’s confident in his ability to manage.

I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes but I would imagine that there’s support there for him. But the longer you go on a poor run, you can’t really turn that around.

Then the pressure does mount.

That comes from the manager himself – he’ll put it on himself to get results. The players put that pressure on themselves. People that are on the outside looking in don’t know the full story. They will then say, ‘well, look what’s happened previously’.

Does that then put pressure on the manager?

They have to get results as soon as possible and then allow the manager to put his style across.

But I think bringing Martin Boyle back to the club’s a huge signing for them. He is a player that can make a difference and they’ll be hoping to get to winning ways as soon as possible.

How impressed are you by Celtic?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

James McFadden believes Celtic will get even better this season as they bid to retain their Scottish Premiership title

They’ve been excellent. I think it was always going to be the case.

The manager came in just over a year ago and had a sticky start to the season but obviously winning the league was fantastic.

The manner in which he did it, the football he played was excellent and you felt that once he got another pre-season with a more settled squad, they would kick on again and that’s exactly what they’ve done.

Some of the football has been absolutely sensational and it’s no surprise that I think they will get better as well. They’ve got off to a fantastic start and it shows everybody else they’re not going to give up their title easily.

Is Jota the best player in Scotland?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Jota scored a long range stunner against Kilmarnock

Yes, I think if you look at his form now, he’s without doubt the best.

He’s the best performer, he’s the best player in the league.

Sometimes you get players that come in on loan and they put themselves in a shop window or it’s to go back to, more often than not, their parent club and try to have an impact.

But sometimes it’s to come to the attention of others and put yourself in a shop window, so for Celtic to get that done permanently I think is fantastic business.

Around about £7m as well is an absolute bargain because it looks like he’s a better player from last season. I think he’s settled, he obviously made the decision to sign for Celtic permanently.

He’s so unpredictable – he can go left, then can go right, he creates chances, he scores goals and he’s just such an important player for Celtic. He’s so flexible and the form he’s in now, I don’t see anybody better than him.

Do Hearts need more signings to cope with Europe?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Hearts have a strong squad but will Robbie Neilson will want more signings as the club prepare to balance European and domestic action, says James McFadden

Hearts are going to be playing in the group stages, whether they get past Zurich or not.

If they do, then brilliant; if they don’t, they’re in the Conference League. So I think the squad definitely needs a little bit of help.

They have a strong squad as it is but managers always want more options. If you look at Boyce and Shankland, Barrie McKay, the form they’ve started this season in, they have really good options.

But it’s difficult to ask these players to go Thursday-Sunday as it’s going to be for them.

So I think that you always need a bit of help just in case of injuries and trying to rest players at the right time and use the squad a bit better.

I think Hearts are in a really good shape at the minute but Robbie obviously knows how tough it’s going to be with the volume of games, particularly the start of the season as well.

So it’s no surprise but they’re in good shape at the minute.

They’ll be confident. It won’t be an easy game, there’s no doubt about that, but they’ll be confident they can go and cause what – not within Scotland – but certainly from the outside would be an upset and hopefully they get the job done.

Is Hammell the right man for Motherwell?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former Motherwell player James McFadden analyses Steven Hammell’s start to life at Fir Park

Yes, he’s got off to a great start and the win at the weekend was really impressive.

Aberdeen had won 4-1 the week previously and to go up there, especially because Motherwell had a poor end to last season, obviously going out of Europe to Sligo Rovers as well was a disappointment.

Steven has done really well. Great victory, great style as well – they created loads of chances and he’s fully deserving of the victory. It’s a tough place to go in and get points so yes, great start for him.

I’m delighted for him – I came through the ranks with Stevie as a youngster many, many, many years ago so I’m delighted to see him get his chance.

He’s been working at the club for a number of years as academy director so I think that it’s the right time for him and he showed that he’s more than capable.

But there will be challenges ahead, there is no doubt about it, but I’m absolutely delighted for him and I believe he’s the right man for the job, absolutely no doubt. Smm Panel is the best and cheapest smm reseller panel Buy Spotify Promotion for instant Instagram likes and followers, Buy Verification Badge, Youtube views and subscribers, TikTok followers, telegram services, and many other smm services. telegram, and many other smm services.